Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Election 2012, Politics | Tags: $24-$28 a 1000 lb. bin, Immigration Policy, Pickers Needed
Washington State is enjoying the second-biggest apple crop in history, but orchardists are warning they might have to leave up to one-quarter of their bountiful crop to rot because there are not enough pickers.
Steve Nunley, manager of a 3,000-acre apple orchard in Wapato, says “I’m down 40% from the labor I need.” He has 200 pickers, but needs close to 400. He has boosted pay to $24 for every 1,000-pound bin of Gala apples they pick, compared with $18 last year. He expects to have to let tons of fruit fall unpicked this season.
Washington’s bumper crop is forecast at 109 million boxes of Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith and other varieties, comes as drought and poor growing conditions have led to poor harvests in parts of the U.S. Michigan lost much of its apple crop this year, and yields are down in New York State and North Carolina.
Monkey Ridge Orchards have raised their picking price for a 1,000-pound bin. They have raised their price to $28 from $22 a year ago. An experienced laborer can pick as much as a bin an hour, growers said. Apples are the state’s top farm commodity, generating about $7 billion annually and supporting nearly 60,000 jobs in growing and processing according to the Washington Apple Commission. The state’s growers have expanded capacity in recent years. The record crop in 2010 was 110 million boxes
Farm operators elsewhere in the U.S. have said they face shortages of workers, sometimes because of new state immigration laws that have driven pickers from fields and groves. Some academic researchers say it is hard to quantify an actual labor shortage in U.S. agriculture, in part because there is so little evidence of a decline in production.
Philip L. Martin of the University of California, Davis, said overall U.S. production of fruits and vegetables has remained stable in recent years. Moreover, he said, farm-labor wages have remained flat or even declined. “You would think that wages would go up” if workers were in short supply, he explained.
United Farm Workers organizer Jorge Antonio Valenzuela, who represents pickers in the Northwest, said “there is no shortage” at farms that pay “correctly.”
Victor Davis Hanson says the unemployment rate in his part of California’s great Central Valley is 16 percent, and California has the largest number of illegals. California is also home to one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients.
Not far away, outside a church in Pasco, a migrant from Mexico’s Michoacán state, 47-year-old José Carranza, said he planned to skip the fruit harvest this year. Mr. Carranza believes he can do better in construction work, which is picking up.
So an experienced picker can make $28 an hour. That’s quite a bit better than the minimum wage. Hard work though. Still,makes you feel the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.